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[RELEASED] CAT Game Builder:The easier, faster way to make games in Unity

Discussion in 'Assets and Asset Store' started by jsoucy, Jan 6, 2018.

  1. jsoucy

    jsoucy

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    CAT Game Builder: The easier, faster way to make games in Unity

    Tricky Fast Studios is proud to announce CAT Game Builder! CAT Game Builder is the easier, faster way to make games in Unity. With CAT’s scores of modular Conditions, Actions, Triggers, and integrated game systems, you can create prototypes, demos, or full games with little or no additional programming.


    The Idea

    Over the years, we have found one need that is common across all our clients: a faster way to create content and new features. Unity provides an excellent framework for laying out the visuals of a game, but you still need to do a fair bit of programming before the game comes to life. While working with Story Arc Media on Poptropica Worlds recently, we found ourselves with exactly this problem. A ton of game features and content needed to be created for the initial launch and accelerated content generation was desired post-launch.



    Building upon the ideas behind systems we had designed and developed on previous projects, Mike had devised a relatively simple, yet extremely powerful, state machine based toolset for content creation. Rather than trying to create a flowchart style state editor, we relied on the inherent editor UI in Unity. Virtually every system in the game interfaced with CAT. Meaning creating additional content, even new systems, could be done without any new code. We could update the game without triggering a new submission to the app stores. CAT was the toolset that allowed us to meet our deadline with relative ease. Making content was so fast!

    Upon shipping Poptropica Worlds, we decided to create an even more robust version of CAT for the public (ok for ourselves too). Enter CAT Game Builder!



    What is CAT Game Builder?

    CAT Game Builder is a fully extendible framework designed for use by professional teams yet easy enough for beginners to master. Using a similar workflow and design to built-in Unity components, CAT Game Builder seamlessly extends the Unity editor to become a complete game making tool. Its power, ease of use, and versatility make CAT an excellent choice for individuals and teams of all sizes.

    With CAT Game Builder, building custom Conditions, Actions, or Triggers to use and reuse in your own games is a breeze. Additionally, it is easy to integrate into both new and existing game systems with just a bit of programming, so you can make new games or add features to existing games easier and faster than ever before. Future add-on modules will provide CAT integrated systems to make it even easier to build many genres of games including RPG, RTS, FPS, Casual, MOBA, Casino games, and more.


    What is in it?

    • Complete No Code solution for game development
    • Included examples and ready to use prefabs
    • Build and reuse modular components
    • Data bind directly to Unity UI components to create UI fast
    • Modular Player and Camera Controllers
    • Save and Restore Game State
    • Integrated and extensible Localization support
    • Interactive debugging - in editor and in game
    • Built and supported by game industry professionals
    • Production-ready and professional quality
    • Fully integrated with Unity’s workflow
    • Comprehensive manual and video tutorials
    How Do I Get CAT Game Builder?
    CAT Game Builder is available on the Unity Asset Store!

    About Tricky Fast Studios
    Tricky Fast Studios is a full-service video game production company specializing in building and scaling high-quality mobile, PC, and server-based games. We operate as both a turn-key development studio and as a trusted outsourcing partner providing top-tier engineering and creative talent to existing teams in North America and abroad.

    For more information, contact us.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2018
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  2. sicga123

    sicga123

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    How long will the discount offer run for?
     
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  3. sirgolan

    sirgolan

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    Most likely only a couple weeks.

    We just updated the online manual, which you can find here.

    Happy to answer any other questions!
     
  4. sicga123

    sicga123

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    Ok, thanks, good to know. I plan to buy a copy at the end of next week.
     
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  5. sirgolan

    sirgolan

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    Great! We'll also be releasing some tutorial videos shortly that should help get you started!
     
  6. sicga123

    sicga123

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    Ok, great. That's good to know. I'm hoping to use this as my main prototayping tool, I tend to prototaype game mechanics every weekend but even with a large array of scripts and prefabs I've put together it can still be an overlong process, so I'm hoping this asset can reduce the time it takes to test struff.
     
  7. sirgolan

    sirgolan

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    We use it internally for prototyping all the time! The balancing example game that comes with CAT started off as just such a prototype. It's really great for quickly seeing if something is fun, or if some game idea works. The great part is that if you have existing scripts, it should be pretty easy to integrate them, which can make them even more versatile! There's a section towards the end of the manual with some examples of how to do that.
     
  8. sirgolan

    sirgolan

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    Here's a screenshot from the included side-scroller example:

    sidescroller.PNG
     
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  9. jsoucy

    jsoucy

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    Hey all,

    We have tutorials coming your way. Here is the latest, How to Make Pong!



    Check out the video(s) and see how easy and fun it can be to use CAT: Game Builder!

    Thank you and enjoy!

    - Jon
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2018
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  10. pccross

    pccross

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    Thinking about buying this asset for prototyping. I noticed in the intro video, there was reference to future support for VR development. Can you elaborate more on what tools you'll be providing VR developers?
     
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  11. sirgolan

    sirgolan

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    We have some parts of this done already. This is mostly because we've prototyped a VR game or two with CAT. As for specifics-- definitely the obvious things like supporting input from various VR controllers. Support for various types of locomotion (teleport vs smooth moving) through our camera controller system. We will likely go a bit further into controls and add in some gesture recognition.

    For all of the addons we have planned, we intend to include various related game systems. For VR, one of the big ones would be an interaction system for physically interacting with objects. These systems have Conditions, Actions, and Triggers integrated and this would be no different. This means you could use Actions to determine what a push button did when you push it with a controller, or use Conditions to determine if you can plug one object into another. Another system I'd like to see is a VR UI-- both one that works like a traditional 2D UI (except in VR), and one that is 3D with buttons you can push and such like Job Simulator or other games. These would both use the databinding system in CAT which is rather powerful and lets you connect your UI directly to the data it represents.

    The VR addon is definitely one that I'm pretty excited about, so that will likely be one of the first we work on.

    Hope that answers your question!
     
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  12. pccross

    pccross

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    Awesome! Sounds like good stuff. Is this the best forum to stay up to date on schedule for these add-ons?
     
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  13. sirgolan

    sirgolan

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    Yup! We will definitely be keeping this thread updated with any new information. We're also in the process of setting up a mailing list. I'll post that info here when it's ready.
     
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  14. sirgolan

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    We're working on some new tutorial videos. What would everyone like to see? Any specific genres of games or areas you'd like covered?
     
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  15. sicga123

    sicga123

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    I haven't had time to go into the manual or look over the current videos so please forgive me if I am asking for tutorials on things that are already there. A detailed video on how to incorporate other assets. I am currently setting up my prototyping environment which includes additional assets such as the Critias Foliage System and various other assets to speed up level prototyping, I read that the new manual has info on this but it is not very detailed. MIght it be possible to do a detailed example of creating a new service and possibly a new system? I am especially interested in placing inventory items in a scene, possibly in a specific area say on a model of a scale and moving them around in-game. CAT-os probably easily capable of this but giving a heads-up on how that task might be done using CAT might be useful to figure out just how the asset works. Well for me at least.
     
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  16. StevenPicard

    StevenPicard

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    I am interested in this but still not sure how this is better than what is out there already such as Gameflow, Bolt, Game Creator, Herokit, etc. BTW, are the add-ins going to cost extra?

    Viewing the tutorial videos, even if I can't follow along, is a good idea. It can give us an idea of how easily games can be created.

    As far tutorials I'd be interested in simple ones to start with in order to give me an idea of how flexible CAT is (i.e. can create different genres of games.) Pacman, Galaxian, Infinite Runner, Card games?
     
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  17. sirgolan

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    That's a really good idea! I wrote a few blog posts that detail building some AI systems in Unity (without CAT), and I'd really like to do follow up tutorials which show how to integrate those systems into CAT. I think I'd look on a case by case basis whether it makes sense to do them as a video, a blog post, or both.

    For level building assets like Critias Foliage System, there probably isn't any integration needed unless there are run-time parameters you want to manage with CAT like wind direction if it supports it (I'm not too familiar with that asset). On the flip side, I'd like to release some free add-ons which provide CAT integration to other popular assets.

    We plan to add a full fledged inventory system into the RPG add-on, but it should be fairly straight forward to build one in CAT today without additional code (except maybe to persist the inventory to disk). That does seem like a great topic for a video-- I'll add that to the list! We have a simple RPG example that comes with CAT, but we did stop short of adding inventory to it. Here's a screenshot from it with a bit of the player's state machine showing:

     
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  18. StevenPicard

    StevenPicard

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    I was just glancing through the manual and noticed the list of example games (nice).

    Okay, this may be a subjective question but taking the two most complicated sample games (side-scroller and RPG) how much time do you think using CAT would save you on development time compared to code alone? Obviously, you'd have no problems coding it from scratch so I am considering that neither is a hindrance (no learning curves.) Example, (just random numbers thrown out there,) 12 hours coding alone, 6 hours with CAT. I am a coder myself but being the sole developer I am always looking for ways to help me be more efficient and accomplish a lot in a short time (and my opinion, flow charts get more complicated than code and of the "visual programming" assets I own and have tried, Gameflow has helped development time the most.)

    Thanks for taking the time to read my posts.

    (Edit to add: the questions are directed towards you as the developer. Your team is obviously talented in Unity development and developed this to help you. I am just wondering how much time it has saved you in development. This will help me decide if the purchase and learning time will pay off.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
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  19. sirgolan

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    What I think is the most obvious benefit is that we specifically avoided using nodes because they quickly become a mess when you start adding complexity. This is something I've seen with every node based editor I've worked with on professional teams. Most of the other visual scripting frameworks use node editors (Game Creator and Herokit are exceptions here).

    CAT also uses higher level building blocks, so you aren’t just coding Unity’s low-level API. This reduces complexity and also makes it much faster to build or prototype. Our thinking here is if you're already going to have to learn Unity's programming API, what's the benefit from doing that in a visual editor vs just also learning C# syntax?

    Looking specifically at Game Creator and Herokit, they seem excellent, but they are also seem tailored to 3D character based games. CAT is flexible enough to be used on any genre of game, and you can can prototype or often build the whole game without code. Some of the no-code examples it comes with are: Flappy Bird clone (in 3D), an RPG (also 3D), a side-scroller (2D), pong clone (2D), brick breaker (2D), and a physics balancing game (3D). Beyond those, we've also used it to prototype an RTS game (3D), Solitaire (as seen in the video, 2D), an endless runner (2D), and quite a few others.

    Finally, we've also designed it to be very easy to extend or integrate with other systems. I think sometimes this is one of the underappreciated benefits, especially for people or teams who do know how to program. If you're building a game system like a spell system, inventory system, or special abilities attached to cards in a CCG, adding Conditions, Actions, or Triggers to the system both makes the system much quicker to build and also much more flexible.

    It'll be a mix. Ones that do cost extra will include enough functionality and content to justify the expense. Those ones will have enough art assets used in included examples to get you started building your own games of that genre. They'll also have fully developed CAT integrated game systems which are similar in quality and flexibility to what you'd see in a AAA game.

    I'm actually looking at starting an infinite runner series of videos this weekend, and we have a companion tutorial to our Flappy Penguin example in progress as well. Those others are also great ideas, too! Ideally, we'd like to build up a decent sized library of video and written tutorials.

    Edit: Just saw your other post-- responding to that now!
     
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  20. sirgolan

    sirgolan

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    We generally see most of the time savings in a few areas with CAT assuming you are familiar with the framework and Unity:

    1. Prototyping - While we were building this version of CAT, I kept trying to find game genres that you couldn't implement with it, and I did this by prototyping games in those genres. This would often include adding a Condition, Action, or Trigger here or there, and I could prototype 1-2 games in a day. Pong took me about 20 minutes including writing 2-3 new CATs (not that it's a shining example of complexity), and since I often demo CAT by building it, I can do it in about 5 minutes now. If I had to put numbers to it, I'd say in the worst case scenario, it's 30% faster, but normally you'd see more like 50%.
    2. Implementation - This is where you'd be building out real parts of the game. If you need systems that CAT provides like quests, persistence, localization, or camera/player controllers, it'll save you 100% of the time of building those obviously. Building new game systems in code and integrating CAT can save 50% to 80% of the time. As an example, I wrote the first iteration of the CAT quest system in about a night, and it was already more functional than the quest system in a popular ARPG I worked on because it benefited from the pre-existing CATs. For example, I didn't have to write extra functionality to complete a quest step if the player enters a trigger area. Just use the Proximity Trigger.
    3. Iteration - CATs show up in the hierarchy view, and you can reorder them, copy/paste, and so on like any other Game Object. It also doesn't trigger a recompile when you make those changes in the editor. This makes for a pretty big savings when you're changing functionality around.
    4. Content Creation - Once you have the game mechanics in place, this is an area where CAT really shines. It takes about 5 minutes to put together a new level for the side-scroller example in CAT because it's all just using the excellent content creation tools in Unity. Even if you wanted to mix things up and add a moving platform-- well, I just tried that and it took about 2 and a half minutes.
    Looking back to Poptropica Worlds, I'd say we built that game in about 1/2 the time it would have taken otherwise. Though keep in mind, that includes building their implementation of CAT from scratch.

    Thanks! And that's definitely how I read it. I might be just a little biased, but I'm confident it will pay off!
     
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  21. StevenPicard

    StevenPicard

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    Thank you for the very detailed answers. Once I make a payment on my PayPal credit I'll pick this up (should happen while it's still at the current price.)

    I did want to add that Gameflow is not visual. The logic is done in the editors. It's actually an approach I find works out well. After v1 of it comes out I should be able to extend it so that it works with CAT.
     
  22. sirgolan

    sirgolan

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    Oh shoot! My bad. It's been a bit since I looked at the other visual scripting products and got it confused with FlowCanvas. Now that I look at it in the Asset Store, Gameflow is very close to CAT in terms of editor UI. So, if you found it handy, I'm sure you'll enjoy CAT as well!
     
  23. StevenPicard

    StevenPicard

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    Because I thought Gameflow worked out much better than I expected, my interest was really piqued when I saw CAT. It may not be as pretty as Bolt (which does have a really nice interface) but it is a more efficient work flow, IMO (I'm not trying to knock Bolt - it's a great product. Flowcharts just seem like more work than programming most the time to me.)
     
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  24. sicga123

    sicga123

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    Hi sirgolan

    I bought CAT-Game builder on wednesday from your website, and I had a quick look through it and saw the RPG demo. But I didn't have time to examine the project closely as I am finishing up a game. Possibly showcasing an integration of Inventory Pro with CAT might be an idea at some stage.
     
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  25. sirgolan

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    I agree! You've got to manage whatever you're trying to build plus keep things neat so it's not complete spaghetti.
     
  26. sirgolan

    sirgolan

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    Awesome, thank you for the purchase!

    Inventory Pro integration would be a good one! I should probably take a look at popular assets that would benefit from CAT integration and make a list to churn through as we have time. I'm happy to take suggestions as well! No promises on whether any specific asset will get integrated, but we'd like to support as many as possible since that only increases the usefulness. For the moment, though, we're just concentrating on making sure the initial launch goes well and that there are enough tutorials and such available.
     
  27. _xeleh_

    _xeleh_

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    Well, GameFlow was released in Feb 2015 and CAT has just been released, so maybe you should say is CAT what is very close to GameFlow in terms of Editor UI. Not trying to hijack your thread, just an observation.
     
  28. sirgolan

    sirgolan

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    No slight intended. GameFlow seems like a great visual scripting tool. You've clearly put a lot of effort into it and it shows.
     
  29. sirgolan

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    We put together an endless runner tutorial this weekend. You can watch it here:



    Note that there's a new Action in this video that requires version 1.02 which is currently in the review queue with Unity. I'll update the thread when that's available.
     
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  30. sirgolan

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    Unity just approved version 1.02, so that should be live now! There's better support for 2D characters along with a new Action which mimics user input to a Player Controller or Camera Controller. There's a few minor bug fixes as well.

    For anyone who bought off the website, you can use the same download link to get the update. If you don't have it, let me know and I'll re-send it.

    I plan to work on writing up a blog post on integrating existing systems into CAT today or tomorrow, and we're still working on the tutorial videos for the Flappy Penguin example. Those should be out soon!
     
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  31. sicga123

    sicga123

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    That's pretty fast going. I'll keep a lookout for the blog post.
     
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  32. StevenPicard

    StevenPicard

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    Having watched some of the videos I am definitely convinced to buy this. Hopefully tomorrow if all goes well.

    As far as tutorials, I'd really love to see some based on Pacman and Shoot 'Em Up style games (3D objects in a 2D perspective.) They would at least show some rudimentary AI and slightly more advanced game scenarios. More advanced AI is going to be a bigger challenge, I can understand that, but I'd be happy with basic AI (like you'd find in those two style of games.) Also, it would be nice to see how mecanim is handled with CAT.

    So often assets that promise to help make game development easier (i.e. Visual Programming) begin to fall apart when the game is more than rudimentary. I am thinking that this asset would still keep the logic clean and easy to read and debug, but it would be nice to see how it comes together in something more practical.

    Edited to Add: My tutorial requests might seem silly since I haven't watched the infinite runner example yet and I'm sure the included demos would shed some light on how various style games are handled.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2018
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  33. sirgolan

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    I'm glad you're enjoying the tutorials! In terms of enemy AI, there's a rudimentary one in the RPG example that comes with CAT. The enemy in there patrols until it encounters the player. Then it goes into pursue mode and follows the player around until it gets into melee range. Once in melee range, it attacks. If they player runs away, it goes back to pursue. That was actually pretty easy to implement. Though I wasn't the one who made that particular example, I actually built out the AI for an RTS style game completely with CAT. If you want to get into some really complex behavior like having a weighted threat list, or choosing the best attack to do given the current circumstances, it might be advisable to build new CATs for that. Or wait for the RPG add-on.

    I think a Shoot 'Em Up game might be a really good tutorial. Showing how to handle bullets in CAT would be useful, too. Actually, after just reading about ghost behavior in Pacman, that could be interesting as well.
     
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  34. sirgolan

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    This might help show some AI behaviors a bit too. Here's the entirety of the Pursue state on the monster in the RPG example:

    upload_2018-1-17_1-25-6.png

    I can go through those pretty quickly. The top Conditional Action has a Current State Condition which checks if the RPGGameController (another State Machine) is in the Danger State, and if not, it changes it to that state with a Change State Action. Mainly, this just changes the background music from normal to danger.

    Next, there's a Looping Action which will run everything delay for 0.1 second and then repeat. Inside the loop is just a Conditional Action with a Proximity Condition which checks if the player is within 10 units of the NPC. If it is, then it has the NPC navigate (using navmesh) to the player. There's some parameters which link the navmesh agent's movement speed to an animation parameter on the NPC's mesh object. If the player isn't within 10 units (for example if they run away), it runs two Change State Actions. The first one puts the NPC back into the Patrol State, and the second one puts the RPGGameController back into the Running State which puts the music back to normal. Note the highlighted icon on those two Actions means they are "Else Actions" or actions that are executed if the condition fails.
    upload_2018-1-17_1-29-23.png

    That's it. There's also a Trigger directly on the State Machine that picks up when the NPC is in melee range:

    upload_2018-1-17_1-30-33.png

    Because it's not in any State, it's always active when the State Machine is active. This is just checking if the NPC is within 2 units of the player and if so, it switches to the Attack State.

    Hopefully that sheds some light on AI behaviors!
     
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  35. StevenPicard

    StevenPicard

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    Thanks for taking the time to respond. Very helpful information!

    One of the benefits to a Pacman style tutorial is the behavior of the ghosts are each slightly different plus there could be basic path finding included (if using 3D in a 2D perspective the navmesh could be used but it'd be interesting see a more traditional implementation.) For the Shoot 'Em Up it would be the shooting and perhaps various attack patterns.

    I know, I know. I sound needy. LOL. I am impressed with what I am seeing so far.
     
  36. StevenPicard

    StevenPicard

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    I bought CAT tonight and I'm going through the examples right now. I appreciate the variety of examples you've included. Next up I'll go through your tutorials.
     
  37. sirgolan

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    Yeah, I agree Pacman would be fun. From what I've read, their path finding is very simple and could probably be done directly in CAT. I did write a node based path finding system that integrated into CAT. It's what this article was based on, and I'm working on a follow up to that article showing how to integrate that system into CAT. I figure I might as well just include that system in the next CAT release as well.

    When you mentioned Shoot 'Em Ups, what game(s) were you thinking of in particular? That's a pretty big genre.
     
  38. sirgolan

    sirgolan

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    Awesome! Thank you for your purchase! I just wrapped up editing part 3 of the Flappy Penguin video, but unfortunately we had to postpone recording the remaining parts until later in the week due to the snowstorm here.
     
  39. StevenPicard

    StevenPicard

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    Simple Galaxian clone and\or and a simple vertical shooter. Even if it's a Space Invaders clone with random "swoop" downs like Galaxian.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2018
  40. StevenPicard

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    Yeah, you guys out on the East coast are getting hit now. Stay safe! We've had the frigid -30 wind chills that have frozen our pipes but not much snow this winter (so far.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2018
  41. sirgolan

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    We'll add that to the list for sure. I realized today that none of our examples show off how to make bullets using CAT, so that might be a good way to do that.

    I don't know which is worse: very cold weather or snow. Frozen pipes are definitely the worst. Luckily we didn't get a ton of snow today. Just enough to make driving annoying.
     
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  42. sicga123

    sicga123

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    Hi Sirgolan

    I sent you a message via your support asking for a new link. Other than an automated message, I've had no reply i.e. no new link.
     
  43. sirgolan

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    Hmm! That's odd! Did you use this support site? I just checked there and don't see anything, but it's possible we have it configured incorrectly. Either way, I just emailed out the link to you. Let me know if you don't see it in the next few minutes!

    Sorry about that!
     
  44. sicga123

    sicga123

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    Hi,
    Yes, that's the support site. No email has arrived so far. I just finished registering (I had overlooked a notification) so possibly the support ticket can be seen now.
     
  45. sirgolan

    sirgolan

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2013
    Posts:
    108
    We're still trying to figure out what happened to the support ticket.

    Meanwhile, I sent another email directly from my trickyfast.com account with the link. Hopefully that one will get to you!

    Sorry for the inconvenience!
     
  46. sicga123

    sicga123

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2011
    Posts:
    779
    Hi
    No problem. The link arrived but currently the connection is timing out so I'll try it later.
     
  47. jsoucy

    jsoucy

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2013
    Posts:
    15
    Thank you for your patience, sicga123.
     
  48. sirgolan

    sirgolan

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2013
    Posts:
    108
    It definitely should be all set by now. We had a poorly timed internet outage that happened just after I sent the email, which is why jsoucy had to respond.
     
    jsoucy likes this.
  49. sicga123

    sicga123

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2011
    Posts:
    779
    Just to let you know I downloaded the updated version.
     
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  50. sirgolan

    sirgolan

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2013
    Posts:
    108
    Great! Sorry for the hassle there! It shouldn't happen again and you should be able to just use that link in the future to get new versions.
     
    jsoucy likes this.